March 30, 2004


LONDON — Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, al Qaeda’s purported operations chief, has told U.S. interrogators that the group had been planning attacks on the Library Tower in Los Angeles and the Sears Tower in Chicago on the heels of the September 11, 2001, terror strikes.

Those plans were aborted mainly because of the decisive U.S. response to the New York and Washington attacks, which disrupted the terrorist organization’s plans so thoroughly that it could not proceed, according to transcripts of his conversations with interrogators. . . .

Mohammed then decided to conduct two waves of attacks, hitting the East Coast first and following up with a second series of attacks.

“Osama had said the second wave should focus on the West Coast,” he reportedly said.

But the terrorists seem to have been surprised by the strength of the American reaction to the September 11 attacks.

“Afterwards, we never got time to catch our breath, we were immediately on the run,” Mohammed is quoted as saying.

He also casts doubt on Moussaoui’s guilt — er, at least in terms of what Moussaoui is charged with. Read the whole thing, but note this warning: “The transcripts are prefaced with a warning that Mohammed, the most senior al Qaeda member yet to be caught, ‘has been known to withhold information or deliberately mislead.'” Those murdering terrorists are bad that way.

UPDATE: Roger Simon has related questions. I love this one: “[A] ‘counter-terrorism’ expert? Is that someone with an Internet connection (preferably broadband)?” If so, there are a lot of us. . . .

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